Over half of the hospitals in the United States use telemedicine in their practice, a trend that’s continually rising. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused an even more massive acceleration of telemedicine use. The U.S. consumer adoption skyrocketed from 11% in 2019 to 46% this year. Medical providers have scaled their services and see an increasing number of patients using telemedicine between 50 to 175 times more.
Because of this, over 90% of healthcare executives are starting to develop or implement a telemedicine program into their organizations. However, even if the industry is booming, there are still several challenges that it faces.
Whether you’re considering incorporating telemedicine in your business or you’re looking to learn more about it, here are the benefits of the practice, downsides, and what it has in store for the future.
Telemedicine offers lower healthcare expenses, better efficiency or revenue, ensuring quality healthcare, and easy access to healthcare services. It provides numerous opportunities for both the patients and the healthcare industry.
Here are some of the most notable benefits for both patients and providers:
Easy Access to On-Demand Remote Urgent Care
Telemedicine serves as an excellent alternative to reduce acuity emergency room visits, urgent care, and after-hours consultations. It offers plenty of urgent care opportunities for healthcare facilities as these care needs are the most common ones that patients seek. Telemedicine provides patients to remotely consult with medical professionals to address immediate concerns and avoid costly emergency room visits.
Cost-Effective and Quality Healthcare Services
Remote diagnosis, analysis, and monitoring significantly reduce healthcare service costs, allowing both patients and providers to save money. Besides virtual consultations, it can reduce costs further by eliminating the need for non-urgent ER visits and transportation expenses.
Improved Patient Care Quality
Telemedicine provides patient-centered practices, like giving immediate healthcare, which is critical in providing quality patient care. Therefore, patients can quickly address their medical issues with real-time urgent care consultations with healthcare professionals and discover their treatment choices within minutes.
Although telemedicine shows great promise to grow rapidly in the next couple of years, it still poses some challenges for a good deal of health care providers. These include:
Reduced Care Continuity
Patients seeking on-demand urgent telemedicine services usually get connected with random medical providers, affecting care continuity. That’s because their primary care providers may not get access to your records from other consultations, leaving them to deal with an incomplete patient history record. This factor can decrease overall care quality.
Potential Patient Mismanagement
Although telemedicine is a convenient way for patients to consult with medical professionals, technology still has limitations. Poor internet connection is inevitable and may lead to patient mismanagement.
Actions to Take for Better Virtual Healthcare Services
Telemedicine is still relatively new for most in the industry, and it can give medical providers several challenges. Below are some steps that health systems can take for their telemedicine practices improving their patients’ access to quality care.
- Segment the vast patient population where medical providers can scale remote interactions using home-based diagnostics and equipment.
- Continually improve services by quantifying clinical outcomes and patient satisfaction.
- Help medical professionals provide better virtual care by centralizing schedules, continuing education, and implementing better workflow design.
As technology intersects with medicine, and patients demanding more convenient and better healthcare, telemedicine is likely to experience massive growth long-term. While the world grinds to a sudden halt, telemedicine is moving forward.